Intel Previews Six-Core Gulftown PC Processor

At the Game Developers Conference, Intel showed off its Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, the chip maker's first six-core CPU for consumers. Codenamed Gulftown, the Core i7-980X comes with more cores and computing threads, and a larger L3 cache, than the current i7-975, and all at the same price.

Intel is showing off its new high-end "Gulftown" gaming chip, the six-core Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Intel officials previewed the chip March 10.

The chip, the first six-core Intel chip for consumers, is built on the company's 32-nanometer manufacturing process, and brings with it such features as Hyper-Threading and TurboBoost.

The Core i7-980X Extreme Edition will replace the current Core i7-975 at the top of Intel's processor list. It offers two more cores than the i7-975, and with Hyper-Threading, will run 12 computing threads. The i7-980X also will come in a the same price--$999 per 1,000 units-as the i7-975, which means that for the same price, gamers and multimedia professionals will get more cores and more threads.

It also offers 12MB of L3 cache, a bump up from the 8MB in the i7-795, which will help ramp up the new chip's performance.

In addition, the i7-980X uses the same LGA-1366 socket as the i7-975, which means that users can easily switch out the old chip for the new one.

The TurboBoost feature, which is found in other Intel processors in both the Core i7 families and other chip lines, allows for individual cores to be powered up or down, depending on the demand. In addition, all six cores can be overclocked-essentially powered up above the 3.33GHz level.

The Core i7-980X reportedly will first show up on gaming PCs, such as the Maingear Shift and Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i-980X).

Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices earlier this month rolled out the 890GX chipset for high-end desktop motherboards, which reportedly set the stage for the chip maker's upcoming six-core Phenom II X6 desktop CPU codenamed "Thuban." which is due out later this year.